Friday, September 17, 2010

Harissa-Spiked Chicken & Corn Stew with Pineapple

Cooking skills focus: Preparing meat for cooking, braising/stewing, balancing flavors

1 qt chicken stock (homemade is strongly preferred, but sometimes you have to make do)
1 large can crushed tomatoes

1 T cooking oil
8 chicken thighs, meat cut off the bone & diced about 1/2" on a side
salt & pepper TT
1 yellow onion, diced 1/2" on a side
1/2 head garlic, cloves peeled & sliced thinly

6-7 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob
4 Yukon gold potatoes, diced 1/2" on a side
4 T harissa spice blend
salt & pepper TT (about 2-3 T salt and 1 T pepper)
water if needed (see below)

1/2 pineapple, diced about 1/2" on a side

1. In a large pot, heat the stock and tomatoes together to a simmer, over medium-low.
2. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. When you can see some wavy smoke lines coming from the pan, add the 1 T oil. Allow the oil to heat up for a few seconds, coating the pan, then add the chicken, season with some salt & pepper and brown well, for about 3-4 minutes on high. Be careful, especially when moving the chicken around in the pan!
3. Reduce the heat to medium-high and stir in the onion and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes and then add to the simmering stock & tomatoes.
4. Add the corn, potatoes and seasoning. Add a little more water if needed but keep the consistency stew-like. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minues to an hour, until the potatoes are done and the chicken is tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
5. Serve with the pineapple as a garnish in the middle of each bowl.

This recipe embodies the power of balancing flavors. You have sweet and savory playing together in a multitude of ways, given the chicken, onion and garlic as savory, the corn and tomato as sweet and savory combined, the harissa spice blend as sweet and savory also but in the form of spices, and the pineapple as sweet but also tangy, and that pineapple tangyness reaching back to the tomato's delicious acidity and connecting there. It's a complex web of flavors that's pretty easy to create.

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